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Cornish Children Witnessing Domestic Violence

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11:08am 24th November 2014

Police in Cornwall and Devon warn some children are being forced to watch domestic abuse at home - or join in.

A campaign has been launched in the run up to Christmas when cases rocket.

Detective Superintendent Paul Netherton told Pirate FM children who witness it at home are more likely to become victims or perpetrators themselves: "It doesn't matter where you live whether it's rural areas or urban areas it happens right across the Peninsula including Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and it's really important that agencies such as the police get to know about those individuals who suffer in silence often."

He explained the object of the new campaign: "To get the confidence of children maybe in the education setting to talk and discuss openly around domestic abuse and to violence within the household and instilling that confidence in them that there are agencies out there that can actually help victims."

According to the Department of Health one in four women, and one in six men experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives, and an estimated 750,000 children in the UK witness domestic abuse in their home. Children affected may have limited social skills, express violent or angry behaviour and be unable to manage feelings and emotions.

Children witness domestic abuse in a number of ways; if they aren't in the same room whilst the abuse is happening, they might be able to listen from the next room or see bruising or scarring on a parent or carer. In some cases, children have been forced to watch abuse and even encouraged to join in with emotional abuse.

Cornish support workers have told Pirate FM that babies and young children are being soothed to sleep by the sound of domestic violence, gradually learning to fall asleep to protect themselves from what is happening.

Simon Carpenter from Truro charity CLEAR said: "They can have emotional development delay; they're not able to talk about how they feel and dissociative behaviour when they're not able to think or concentrate, they may feel guilt, shame, blame and because they feel quite vulnerable they can feel quite angry and aggressive.

"Children do tell us this - that they heard things and they were scared and they were frightened that they could hear things going on. It's hard to think that your children hear those things and of course you're going to say that it didn't' have an impact because they were in the same room but it's worse sometimes because children come up with all sorts in their imagination."

Detective Superintendent Paul Northcott from the Public Protection Unit added: "This is a Force priority, and we always aim to protect the community's most vulnerable people, striving to help families and safe guard children where there is domestic violence.  If you know of anyone who needs help in this area, we would encourage you to come forward. There are support services and partners across the region who are here to help."

Devon and Cornwall's Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg says: "Domestic abuse is a significant problem across all communities in Devon and Cornwall. In the run up to Christmas this campaign will help to spread the word that domestic violence is unacceptable behaviour and our society needs to change it. People should feel confident that if they report incidents such as these they will be treated seriously and investigated thoroughly."

If your child, or a child you know, tells you that he/she has been abused:

    Listen carefully and let your child tell you what happened in his/her own time.
    Reassure your child that he/she is not to blame for what happened (or is happening).
    Let your child know he/she is very brave to tell you about it.
    Show your child that you are concerned for him/her.
    Try to stay calm and not let your child see how shocked you are.

For information and advice please call the Domestic Abuse 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247. Cornwall REACH hub number is: 0300 7774 777 or the police: 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency.  


11:08am 24th November 2014

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